Do you remember when you were five, and all it took was an ice-cream cone to make your day the “best day ever?” Now you probably need a little more than an ice-cream cone to merit such a high label. This past summer I had the opportunity to take a group trip to Italy. I had never traveled outside of the United States before, so Europe was hardly even a reality to me. I remember sitting in the airplane and watching the glowing orange sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, with classic cotton ball clouds beneath it, and thinking that I would be perfectly content to sit on that plane forever. When I saw the mountains and islands of Italy beneath us, that feeling of contentment soon fled in anticipation of what lie ahead. I live in Florida, whose land is as close to flat as possible, and so the scene of mountaintops jutting from the ocean like speed bumps was quite breathtaking. By the time we landed, however, and began our bus ride around Rome, those awe-inspiring moments had fled my mind. Taking in the history and culture around me, I realized that I wouldn’t for anything have wanted to get back on the plane that I had just hours before felt perfectly content in. I wouldn’t have wanted to move on anywhere else either, because I believed “it couldn’t get any better than this”. You could say that that first day-the plane, the sunrise, the mountains, and the first sights of Rome-was my first “best day ever”, my ice-cream cone.
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Every day brought something new and more impressive to me than the last. Like a child who forgets the ice-cream cone for a new toy or gadget, I thought little of that first day because I was distracted by the new, the bigger, the “better”. For example, the second day of the trip we visited the Coliseum, and already the beautiful sunrise and the mountains in the ocean had been surpassed in my mind by this new and awesome sight. The day we went to the coastal town of Sorrento was huge for me – the concept of mountains and beach sharing a landscape was alien and exciting to me, and once again I found myself thinking that “it couldn’t possibly get better than this”. Just like in the airplane, I never wanted to leave.
Well, I cursed that thought when on the following day we took a ferry to the island of Capri. I never wanted to get off the ferry – as I stood and leaned over the edge of the boat, the wind blew my face numb with cold, the jumps of the boat sent butterflies through my stomach, the ocean spray sprinkled my skin and sent the smell of the ocean into the air, and the sunlight sparkled on the deep blue water. I was honestly disappointed to leave the ferry and arrive at the island itself. But, as is now almost becoming predictable, when I got there, I thought of the ferry ride for all of two minutes. We reached a garden up on a mountain that overlooked about half of the island. There I witnessed mountains that cut off as steep cliffs to rocky bottoms bordering water that was a brighter blue than I had even known existed. The water splashed up on the rocks, creating a clean white foam and a soothing “sshhhh” sound. The cool and gentle breeze was peaceful, perfectly countered by a blanket of warm, bright sunlight. With each sense overwhelmed by such majesty, I once more decided that I never wanted to leave. At that point I felt I knew “it couldn’t possibly get any better than this.”
We went home the following day, and I confess that I was near heartbroken. To this day I don’t believe that anything could possibly be more impressive, more captivating, or more beautiful than that garden in Capri. If someone were to tell me otherwise, I would struggle to believe them. But then, ironically, before I experienced that “best day ever”, I would have been happy to have stayed on the plane, watching the sunrise, and never arriving in Italy. Now the thought of never leaving the plane would be utterly disappointing. I was a child who had grown into a teenager, and I was no longer impressed by ice-cream cones because I now had gotten my first car.
Human nature resists change, especially if it takes us away from what we know, what is comfortable for us, and what we believe is making us happy. We realize that as we gain experience, the sad times will get sadder and the happy times will get happier. It will become harder with each passing day to be impressed. So once we have found that “best day ever”, we don’t ever want it to end, and we are sad when it is time to go to bed and know that that day is over. Yet it is a wonderful experience to wake up and get out of bed wishing it were yesterday, only to find out that today was even better. Now that we have enjoyed today, if someone were to offer for us to return to yesterday and stay there, we would reply that we could never settle for yesterday, because we have seen how great today was. And yet in the same breath, we would complain that it is time to go to bed and admit that today is over. We would wake up the next day, and wish it were yesterday.
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